The group, Regulate Florida, which is attempting to put a citizens initiative on the 2020 ballot that would permit the regulation of marijuana for recreational use in Florida, says it’s within days of having enough registered voter signatures to trigger a review of the ballot summary by the Florida Supreme Court. The court review will look at whether the summary follows ballot state guidelines.
That “trigger point” is just over 10 percent of the 766,200 signatures needed for a citizens initiative to make the ballot. Reaching the trigger point also requires state economists to conduct an economic impact study of the initiative.
“We are currently at 75,249 verified signatures, needing only 1,383 for the required number of 76,632 to reach this state required milestone. It’s a matter of days,” Regulate Florida said in a newsletter sent out Wednesday morning. “We will be the FIRST Legalization Citizen’s Initiative to EVER make Supreme Court Review and the first largely grassroots effort to do so.”
The group says, as it now stands, the initiative will reach the milestone weeks earlier than did Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative that voters adopted in 2016.
“We are nearly at Supreme Court Review, at least one month ahead of Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana), which attained Supreme Court Review on September 3rd,” Regulate Florida said in its newsletter.
Supporters of the initiative say they are encouraged by a poll released last month showing an overwhelming number of voters support the idea of letting Floridians buy and even grow their own cannabis. The poll, released by Quinnipiac University, shows Florida voters support 65 – 30 percent allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Earlier this year, the Legislature enacted new requirements for petition gathers that critics say are designed to make it more difficult for citizen initiatives to make the ballot. The new law creates restrictions for campaigns that pay petition gatherers. All paid petition gatherers must now register with the state. Initiatives must pay petition gatherers by the hour and not by the signature, as they have done in the past.
Organizations promoting initiatives must have numbered, serialized petitions provided by county elections offices. Petition-gathers must register with the state and have a permanent Florida address. Violating the new rules could result in fines and criminal charges, including $50 fines for signed petitions turned in after 30 days and $500 fines for petitions never turned in.
Regulate Florida says the new rules will not interfere with the group’s voter signature gathering efforts.
“Of course it’s going to make it more difficult, but it is not insurmountable. It’s not going to be a deal-killer for us,” said Karen Seeb Goldstein, vice chair of Regulate Florida,